Global wind fleet set to reach 5.9TW by 2050 – DNV

Analysts predict continuing cost reductions for the wind sector amid increases to capacity factors both onshore and offshore

DNV forecasts the world's installed wind fleet will surpass 1TW in 2022 (pic credit: Mainstream Renewable Power)

There is due to be a massive roll-out of renewable energy capacity and grid infrastructure to support increased levels of variable generation in the next 30 years, according to a new report.

Analysts at DNV forecast wind and solar will account for 69% of grid-connected electricity generation by 2050, while fossil-fuel power will account for just 13%. However, in its new World Energy Transition Outlook, DNV warns renewables are not scaling fast enough.

In the next 30 years, DNV expects $12 trillion to be spent in building a larger grid and adapting it to suit the variability of wind and solar through technical solutions such as connectivity, storage and demand response.

DNV also expects continued increases in wind turbine size and capacity factor to help reduce costs between now and 2050, while the world’s wind fleet is set to grow from 709GW at the beginning of 2020 to 5.9TW by 2050.

Wind power provided 5% of the world’s electricity output in 2019, with the vast majority of that coming from onshore wind. However, DNV expects this to rise to 33% by mid-century.

It forecasts onshore wind capacity to increase eight-fold by 2050, and offshore wind’s share of total wind electricity generation to rise from 6% in 2019 to 40% by 2050.

Meanwhile, DNV expects annual global wind capacity additions to increase from 60GW in 2019 towards 340GW by mid-century

It projects the world’s installed wind capacity to increase rapidly over the next 30 years. DNV charts the world’s wind fleet growth from 709GW at the beginning of 2020, to 1TW in 2022, 2TW in 2029, 4TW in 2043 and 5.9TW in 2050. This 5.9TW will include 1.7TW of offshore wind, which will be boosted by larger turbines, mega-sized projects and a more dedicated offshore supply chain, DNV explained.

With new turbine types and continued increases in turbine, blade, and tower sizes, capacity factors will improve, the analysts believe.

They foresee the global average capacity factor for onshore wind turbines rising from 21.5% in 2019 to 31% by 2050. For offshore wind turbines, where wind conditions are more favourable, the average capacity factor is already 34%. However, DNV expects this to rise to 50% by 2050.

Meanwhile, the analysts expect onshore wind costs to decline 42% between 2020 and 2050 due to rising capacity factors and cheaper turbines. DNV forecasts fixed-bottom offshore wind costs to fall 44% and floating offshore wind costs to fall 80% due to improvements in operating and maintenance expenses as experience builds.